I recently read the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I was impressed, as I always am when I read books written by authors who are better at their craft than I. Which, if we are honest, is pretty much all published authors. Hawthorne masterfully created his story in a way that was compelling and beautiful.
The Custom House was a dark time for me, it was really rough to get through. It wasn’t that it was particularly unpleasant reading, it was just rather difficult to get through. Many people have asked the purpose of the custom house over the years, and I believe that I have come up with the solution; the purpose of the Custom house is to ferret out the unworthy readers. Hawthorne only wants people who are committed to reading his book to read it, it is not a light piece of fiction, and he doesn’t want anyone reading it lightly. I know that there is a real reason for including it in his book, I just don’t know what it is. If you look hard enough you would probably be able to find it, he is too good of a writer to put something in his book and not have it serve a purpose.
Beyond the Custom House, the story is amazing. he uses beautiful diction and such rich imagery to create wonderful, characters that I was able to relate to. I thought that the ending of the book was the most beautiful scene I had ever had the pleasure to encounter, be it in a book or a movie. I loved the book over all. I could go on for quite a while prattling about how good it was, but I fear that I would bore you. All I can do is tell you that it is an excellent book that you should read.
SPOILER ALERT. IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE SCARLET LETTER DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT.
One of the ideas in the Scarlet Letter was that it is better to express your sin and let the world know about it than to keep it a secret. Early in the book when we can only infer that Dimmesdale is Pearl’s father, he is having a conversation with Chillingworth about how it is far better to confess a sin and find relief than to hide it. I remember thinking to myself, that guy is really dumb, he says it is better, he knows it in fact, but he doesn’t do it. Then I realized that we do the same thing. I think its better to tell someone I sinned against them, but then I don’t. Why? Because although we know it in our heart that it is better, our brain takes quite a bit of convincing. We must all decide what is best, do we tell the world about our problems, or do we keep them inside where only we can see them, the choice is yours.